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DIY Lift Harness For Large Dogs

DIY Lift Harness For Large Dogs

When Leroy was sick I ran into many obstacles that I wasn’t prepared for with a giant breed dog. It’s not that I never thought about it but I just wasn’t prepared to have a debilitated dog as soon as I did.

Helping him up was nearly impossible and getting him into the car without a dog ramp or dog steps proved to be impossible for me alone.

It was scary and frustrating and a huge wake-up call.

We got a ramp. We got a lift harness. We made alterations to our home.

Of course, by the time we had all those items at our disposal, Leroy was on his way to recovery and our need for them wasn’t as dire but I know they will be needed again in the future.

Before our lift harness arrived in the mail we used a towel to help Leroy up. It worked in a pinch but it certainly wasn’t ideal.

A towel is hard to grip on the sides when you’re lifting a 130-pound dog.

A small towel won’t do because it doesn’t fit around a big dog.

A towel puts a lot of pressure under the belly, an area that was already sensitive in Leroy’s case, when your lifting. Not to mention the tension it put on my back.

But what other options do I have when I need a dog sling in a pinch?

Well, a few weeks ago I saw this genius and simple idea pop up in my Facebook feed from Dunnville Animal Clinic and I wanted to share it far and wide so others may be able to benefit from this if they ever find themselves needing a dog sling in a pinch.

Make a shopping bag into a temporary DIY lift harness for large dogs.

DIY Lift Harness For Large Dogs

I thought this was genius and so simple my concern was that I saw a lot of people with BIG dogs were saying “Nice but I have a 100-pound dog. That won’t work.”

I thought it would work so I put it to the test.

First I searched my house for the perfect shopping bag.

I have a ton of them.

Some small. some big.

Of course, a small one isn’t going to work on a BIG dog.

But I had the perfect one.

My BlogPaws swag bag.

DIY Lift Harness For Large Dogs

It’s HUGE and while I was little sad about cutting it up, the zipper was broken from holding too much swag and I figured it was being used for a good cause so it wouldn’t mind be sacrificed.

All I did was cut the sides off, removed the zipper and I had a dog lift harness. It took me less than 3 minutes.

It fits on my 170 pound dog and it holds him.

DIY Lift Harness For Large Dogs

It was kind of hard to lift him since he doesn’t need it right now but I have no doubt that it would hold him, temporarily.

As I was lifting I listened to hear if the stitching was holding and I didn’t hear anything tearing and the whole bag was fully intact when I was done.

Of course, Leroy thought I was I was a little wacko and making himself dead weight but that tested the durability even more in my opinion.

I don’t think this type of lift harness should be used permanently and it definitely would have to be heavier material,  but I do think it would work great in a pinch and I wish I knew about it last year.

I think it would have been a lot easier on Leroy and on me until our real lifting harness arrived. It’s a great option when the unexpected happens and you’re not prepared.


  • Folding a large bag in 1/2 would work also. I tried this after the fact and it doesn’t go as high up on the chest which might work better for some.
  • It’s washable!
  • Canvas bags will be more durable and probably more comfortable than plastic bags.
  • Keep one in your car for older dogs who have trouble getting in and out.


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Sunday 17th of September 2023

Thank you for the idea. I have a 26lb dog who can’t do stairs. Carrying him upstairs each day is hard on my bad, once broken knee. I will try the bag.


Saturday 11th of December 2021

I have to thank you so much for this! My dog has been having trouble walking since she started phenobarbital for seizures this week and while she's getting used to the meds this is a lifesaver. I couldn't get a good enough grip with a towel to help her stand up before this.


Thursday 27th of September 2018

I wish I saw this post a few months ago when Linus got sick. He was having trouble walking and I wanted something to help support him when he wanted to walk around the house or go out to potty. I knew about the Gingerlead from BlogPaws. Unfortunately, Linus passed away before I found a solution to help him. By the way, awesome that you were able to put your BlogPaws swag bag to good use.

How to Make Your Arthritic Dog More Comfortable -

Monday 18th of June 2018

[…] When possible, you might consider carrying your dog. Because moving his legs may cause pain, it’s best to carry your pup in a sling. You can purchase a specialized sling, or you can make one yourself from a standard bath towel or canvas shopping bag. […]


Sunday 8th of April 2018

It's 2 years after you posted this , but I am in a pinch with a 70lb dog with back legs giving out. You saved the day tomorrow going to the vet! Thank you!

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